Eugene Levy on Exploring Europe in 'The Reluctant Traveler' Season 2

In season two of his Apple docuseries The Reluctant Traveler, Eugene Levy explores parts of Europe that may be overlooked for bigger, more well-known cities.

Instead of Madrid or Barcelona, he visits Andalusia, Spain. The Schitt’s Creek star forgoes Mykonos or Santorini for life on the tiny Greek island of Milos. He finds himself in Sylt, Germany, as opposed to major cities like Berlin or Munich.

Ahead of each season, the Reluctant Traveler production team scouts out possible locations for the Emmy-winning actor, comedian and nervous globe-trotter to visit. Together with Levy, they decide what places would be the most fun and meaningful, and go from there. The team often visits each place multiple times to find out who Levy will be interacting with, what he’s going to do and how he’s going to dive into a new culture.

By season two, the admittedly trepidatious traveler felt more comfortable both appearing in the series as himself, and trusting his team to make the calls on everything from what he was going to eat to who he would spend time with, but he still made sure to voice his thoughts to some degree. The American Pie star says he decided to do this show because he wanted to be pushed out of his comfort zone and see the world in ways he hadn’t yet, being in his seventies.

“I’ve done most of the things that they’ve wanted me to do,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I really didn’t like being myself in front of a camera in the beginning, because I’d never done it. I never thought I was interesting enough. That’s why you go into character work. But it’s all coming together for me, so it is me on camera.”

Below, Levy unpacks how this season is different from the first, whether his reactions are genuine or if they include a little acting, and his favorite memories from all of his travels.


How do the two seasons of your travel docuseries compare?

Well, I think the show just keeps getting better. This was an interesting season. We’re doing Europe. I think I’m getting a little better — meaning more comfortable being on camera, because it was an odd feeling last year for me. I’ve never done this sort of thing before. I’m a character actor, so I put on some makeup and, anybody but me, I’d be comfortable in front of a camera. So that was a tough thing for me when we started the show: how am I going to do on it? And, am I going to be helping the show or not?

I’m more comfortable this year. I got comfortable last year, but now it’s almost become like second nature. I can be myself without working too hard at it. I think we have some great locations, and it’s off-the-beaten-track kind of Europe that I think people don’t get a chance to see that often. That’s a big plus.

Since this is the second season, how much say did you have in picking the excursions and the places you visited?

I get a rundown of possible potential locations, and we kind of pick the ones that we think are going to be the most fun and meaningful. But the production team, really, they’re the ones that are responsible for the show. I just show up and do it. They’re the ones doing the scouting, and they’re the ones making two or three trips to every location, figuring out who I’m talking to, what we’re going to be seeing, what’s the main thrust and cultural high point. So, I leave that up to them because they honestly know what they’re doing, and I’m trusting them more. And in that, I’m willing to take more chances or go more off the beaten path for me, because obviously, that makes for a more interesting show. There are some things that I will still say no to because I just don’t care to do it, but it’s mostly in their hands.

How much do you decide to push back versus just sort of go along with it? How do you balance that?

I think, for the most part, in terms of what we’re seeing and who we’re talking to, that’s all fine, and sometimes they’ll try to push the envelope in terms of taking me out of a comfort zone. I’ve done most of the things that they’ve wanted me to do. I have a fear of heights, so I’ve done a helicopter. I actually did it. I did say no to a hot air balloon that they wanted me to do for one of the countries. I did the King’s Walk, which was in Spain, and that’s a narrow walkway along the side of a cliff. That was tough, but I did it. But standing in a basket 1,000 feet above the ground? No, I can’t do it. So, that was a no. Food, I tried to sample things I would never eat. I mean, I’ll try it. I tried haggis — horrible, just horrible. Octopus, I didn’t like it. But I try and ride the line and give them the benefit of the doubt. My tastes are just simpler than that, to be honest. I’ve never had an adventurous palate.

In the show, to what degree are you yourself versus acting a little bit?

It’s 100 percent genuine. That’s the thing now when I say I’m kind of relaxing into the show. I really didn’t like being myself in front of a camera in the beginning, because I’d never done it. I never thought I was interesting enough. That’s why you go into character work. But it’s all coming together for me, so it is me on camera. I’m trying to be myself and how I communicate with people. Sometimes I say I like something, like salmon fishing when I was in Scotland, and I said something like, “This could be my second sport.” I couched it in that it could be a joke, but I felt like I wanted the guys I was with to feel better about the experience that they were putting me through, and I didn’t want to say I don’t really enjoy it. So, I’m trying to be as honest as I can in everything I do.

What have been some of your favorite memories from the last two seasons?

Our very first show — the Maldives — that was an experience, because that was really beautiful, lovely and the kind of setting I actually like, which is basically a beach. That was good. I loved Utah last season because that turned out to be — like Scotland this year — something that crept up on me in kind of an emotional way, and I wasn’t expecting it and the experience itself in working with and hanging with those lovely people from the Navajo Nation, it was a spectacular episode. This year, Sweden. This was an example of you putting on this Midsummer festival, pouring rain. These poor people who were putting on this thing and singing and dancing and putting up the maypole, and they’re in their costumes getting drenched and yet could not have had more of a positive attitude about the whole thing, and my heart went out to them.

Spain was quite exciting because I got to spend an afternoon with a soccer all-star Héctor Bellerín and gave him a fantastic celebratory move if he ever scored a goal, and he said he never scores because he’s a defender. But the game happened the next night, and we’re covering it from a bar, and he did score, and he then does the celebratory moves that I gave him the day before in the biggest game of the year. And I went crazy. The entire crew went crazy when they saw that. There are some really nice, high points. They’re giving me some lovely things to do that I think the average Joe just wouldn’t get a chance to do like, you know, shepherd 600 sheep through the most expensive real estate in Sylt, Germany. I’m loving it.

The Reluctant Traveler releases new episodes weekly on Tuesdays on Apple TV+.

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